Army Base with Ships?


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Oceania » Marshall Islands » Majuro
September 12th 2009
Published: November 24th 2009
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The Atolls


Who has heard of the Marshall Islands? You? Really?!? I had no idea about them, but apparently one of the islands has an Army base on it. It's called Kwajalein. So, this blog happens to say Majuro, Kwaj (as we called it) isn't listed. Jay had been there many times and was able to tell me about the great diving they have there. There is a large stray population and he occasionally goes out to make a difference. Oh, and there are also some military families and contractors with animals that he can see as well.

I must say, it was such a bizarre thing to see the Army having ships, but they did! The pilot that came on board to get us into the atoll was an Army gal, dressed in khaki shorts and a polo shirt. Besides hearing that this entire particular island is a base, I also heard it referred to as Club Med. The rest of the islands in this particular atoll are very poor and many find it terrible to se people living in "luxury" on an Army base when there are others in need just a few miles away. It is probably one of the smallest bases I've seen and it's not glamorous by any stretch of the imagination. The buildings are all reminiscent of the 60s and 70s, I doubt there has been too much modernization of the place since it was originally built. There is a tiny exchange and a couple of small shops, even some that sell the local cultural goods (baskets, jewelry and shells), but it's not a place I would want to live for too long. Looking at the surrounding islands, they looked no different from the past few islands. Sure, they may not have internet cafes or Subway, but the South Pacific has it's own way of life. I wouldn't impose our culture on that just to give them "luxury", in my opinion, unnecessary things that have strangled many a beautiful culture. People are entitled to their own opinions though.

Jay told me about the great diving and some other key items of interest. Of course, knowing me, I was mostly interested in the diving bit, but then the topic of sharks came up. Oh there are sharks everywhere out here. Cool, I think. Yeah, diving is okay but you don't want to just go
Sharks off the DockSharks off the DockSharks off the Dock

Nurse sharks and small black tip reef sharks come up to get the fisherman's scraps.
swimming for a long period of time. Uh... what exactly do you consider diving? I mean, let's consider this a moment. Yikes! Whatevs, I like sharks to be honest (besides the 3 big nasties, even those I can appreciate their beauty). I wonder if I'll get to see any on the boat ride in. Wait for it... wait for it.... no, I didn't. I did, however, have Jay take me to one of the fishing docks for what turned out to be the best place to spot sharks.

The locals take out their boats for fishing most days and clean them right there on the dock prior to going home. As you can imagine, at least I can anyway, the spouse is happy to get fresh fish while leaving the nasty, smelly fish guts well away from the household. What better way to get rid of said nastiness than to feed sharks? Okay, another digression here... I don't agree with those people/companies that use chum/fish guts to draw sharks in for tourism. Let me think here, wait, I mean I'm not too smart, but seriously. Bait sharks with people in the water... associate people with food. That just
A Little Feeding FrenzyA Little Feeding FrenzyA Little Feeding Frenzy

This was really cool to watch.
doesn't even remotely sound like a good idea, does it? Anyway, back to the cool part. I go to the dock and see 6 foot long nurse sharks just waiting for food. Then comes this slender, 5 foot or so black tip reef shark and a turtle! I mean, does it get any better than this? I'm sure it does, but it was still just amazing to watch them glide so effortlessly through the water.

Unfortunately we would only be here for one night before going to Majuro, an island part of another atoll. So what are we going to do with our one day? Oh yeah, we're going to have a long sought after beer. After Kiribati, everyone wanted to sit somewhere comfortable and enjoy some fellowship and drinks without worrying about the smell and craziness that I described in the last blog. There is an amount of divinity walking into a bathroom and being able to actually relieve ones self in a sanitary place. You probably think I'm joking and being excessive in my descriptions... I swear to you that I would have rather camped out in the wilderness than walk into a toilet in Kiribati.
Kwajalein Night OutKwajalein Night OutKwajalein Night Out

Thomae and I decide to cut a rug. It's been a while since we've had a beer.
That said, all were extremely appreciative to have Kwaj for even a few hours of respite.

With 50 cent Guinesses and good company, the band played for mostly the entire ship at the only bar there. We crowded the tables and a few locals came to join us. It was a great night, relaxing to say the least. I goofed off with the Vet crowd and danced a little swing tune with Thomae. Watching some people walk back to the ship was entertaining as well. Do we really have to leave?


Time for Majuro... I'm anxious to see what this last place has to offer.


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I have no idea what Jay is doing.


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